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More Than 1700 Attend EMA Spring Briefings

New Zealand border issues, skills and staff shortages and new rules around compulsory Christmas shut-downs dominated discussions during the EMA’s recently completed Spring Briefing round.

More than 1700 EMA members joined the briefings with record numbers in venues such as Tauranga, Whakatane and Hamilton.

"It was clear members were looking for some direction and certainty from the new Government and they were also keen to get face-to-face with fellow business people and our EMA team," says the EMA’s Head of Advocacy and Strategy, Alan McDonald.

"Many of the questions and comments focused on the huge levels of frustration at trying to get people through the border and quarantine system. Skills shortages were a real issue for many of our members across multiple sectors before COVID-19 hit and the COVID-19 crisis has only brought those shortages into sharper relief.

"The government’s view that these roles will be filled by either returning or unemployed Kiwis is simply not happening as businesses still struggle to fill roles from the basic to the big end of a business. Better border and quarantine facility management is an urgent priority for our members and businesses across the country if we are going to make the recovery and transition necessary to restore and enhance our economy for the well-being of all New Zealanders," he says.

The EMA’s Head of Legal and General Counsel, Matthew Dearing, said the new rulings on compulsory shut-downs over the traditional Christmas break were also causing significant concerns and confusion.

"The way this has been treated in the past is no longer relevant and the new rulings create a level of complexity that many businesses are struggling to understand. The policy pack we’ve developed continues to be picked up by our members and non-members to help manage the issue as the Christmas season rapidly approaches," he says.

Improving productivity, infrastructure development and recent changes to the Privacy Act were other topics frequently raised by members, and concern was expressed at the potential raft of employment legislation including more sick leave, new public holidays and minimum and living wage increases adding costs to business at a time when they can least afford it.

The EMA holds three rounds of Briefings a year to share economic, policy and legal information updates with members. The Summer Briefings begin in February.

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